People in Cwm Taf Morgannwg are now able to order sexual health testing kits online and carry out the tests in the privacy of their own home.
The health board’s sexual health team has joined forces with Frisky Wales, a service run by Public Health Wales, to ensure people can get tested for sexually transmitted infections including chlamydia, gonorrhoea and hepatitis if they feel they are at risk.
The service was trialled across Wales before the coronavirus pandemic and has been seen as an invaluable tool during lockdown, with usual walk-in clinics closed. Two types of test are available – one for chlamydia and gonorrhoea and another for HIV, syphilis and hepatitis B and C – to anyone who would like a ‘peace of mind’ test. People showing symptoms should still ring the sexual health clinic’s triage line.
Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB Clinical Nurse Specialist Louise Quealey said: “The scheme was piloted pre-Covid. We were always due to come on board and Covid has given it a nudge forward. The website asks a number of questions and has safeguarding measures in place to make sure the right people can access the service. We also give out free condoms.
“This is a good service that our team has been very keen to see arrive. I think Public Health Wales has done a fabulous thing, as routine tests were high in demand before Covid. By reducing this demand, we can allow more time to focus on patients with more complex sexual health needs”.
Before Covid, up to 25 to 35 people per session were accessing the walk-in sexual health clinics at Dewi Sant Hospital and their community outreach clinics – with Dewi Sant Hospital providing up to three sessions per day. Since the pandemic, staff have been available over the phone for people who need contraception and there’s also a triage number for members of the public with concerns.
“If someone is anxious, we refer them for a test,” said Louise. “They get a text if the result is negative and, if it’s positive, we ring the person and arrange for them to come in. Initially, for the first two weeks of lockdown, people were panicky about not being able to access the service, but they understood and there was a lull. Now it’s starting to pick up again as people are meeting up.”
To request a test or get advice on infections, contraception or unplanned pregnancy, visit friskywales.org.